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'I am not dating Shekhar Kapur'

Last updated on: May 24, 2011 15:51 IST

'I am not dating Shekhar Kapur'

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

As she danced down the red carpet at Cannes for the premiere of Shekhar Kapur's documentary, Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, people stopped to watch.

But Fagun Thakrar is not a hired dancer; she is a MBBS graduate who gave up her medical career to become an actor.  

In an exclusive interview, Fagun tells Sonil Dedhia about her jig on the red carpet, her films and clears the air about Shekhar Kapur's 'request'.

What were you doing at the Cannes film festival?

I was at Cannes to launch my fashion line, The Fagun Collection. I recently designed my own collection of sophisticated clutch purses with Swarovski crystals, which will be available exclusively in the USA.

Part of the proceeds will go to the NGO 'Sahara', for which I am the international spokesperson.

How did you meet Shekhar Kapur?

We met through a mutual friend. We had all gone out together and that's how we came to know each other. 

Is it true you altered your outfit to accommodate Shekhar Kapur's request?

After we met, Shekhar requested me to dance on the red carpet for the premiere of his documentary. After I agreed, he asked me what I was going to wear.

I had a formal outfit but it was obvious I wouldn't have been able to dance in it. So I chose a blue dress designed by Shaikh and Wahab and showed it to him, but Shekhar wanted a sexier look. He wanted me to wear a choli and that's the reason I had to cut it.


Image: Fagun Thakrar

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'No one has danced on a red carpet before'

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What prompted you to agree to dance on the red carpet?

This was the first time anyone has ever danced on the red carpet at the Cannes Festival (laughs). When Shekhar approached me, he wanted something unusual.

He asked me if I could dance on the red carpet for him at the premiere of his documentary, which was going to be showcased at the festival. Initially, I thought he was joking.

Is something brewing between you and Shekhar Kapur?

No, there is nothing between us. We are not dating each other. We just met through a mutual friend and we have now become friends.

Is Shekhar Kapur planning to cast you in any of his films?

Nothing has been discussed as of now, but I would love to work with him.

A lot of Indian celebrities were present at the Cannes. Did you meet anyone?

I met Raykesh Omprakash Mehra and Ashutosh Gowariker at the premiere of Shekhar Kapur's film.


Image: Fagun Thakrar

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'Mt mother was unsure about my career choice'

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Tell us something about yourself.

I was born and raised in England. I grew up in the town of Leicester. My mother is from Gujarat, India, and my father was born and raised in East Africa. He moved to England in 1970. Currently, I shuffle between Los Angeles and London.

You were studying medicine?

Yes, as a child I was always surrounded by professional family members. This influenced me to start pursuing medicine at the University College London medical school. But I chose this university because I also love acting; there are a lot of acting schools in the same area.  

Besides pursuing medicine, I attended acting classes in the evenings and weekends. I studied Shakespeare at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the London School of Speech and Drama. I toured the UK in a play, which was a great learning experience.

Did you always want to act?

I was interested in acting from a very young age. I used to act in my school; in fact, my professional acting career started when I was at school. 

I was being interviewed as a high achiever in my school by a British channel when Paul Makkar saw me and offered me the lead character in his short film, Brick Lane.

I was studying at UCL when BBC producer saw Brick Lane and asked me to participate in the reality show, Bolly Idol, which I won. I was immediately signed for a musical and had to constantly shuffle between London and Los Angeles.

Acting again took a backseat as I completed my education. During this time, though I was offered many roles, I could not take anything. 

You come from a conservative Gujarati family. Were your parents not apprehensive about your career choice?

My mother was little reluctant. When I started my formal training in acting, she found it a little unusual. But then things started to settle. Today, my parents are very happy about my career.


Image: Fagun Thakrar

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'It was a treat to work with Martin Sheen'

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Are you still pursuing medicine?

I completed my degree and immediately got into acting. As a doctor, one needs a lot of time to practise. At the moment, I am concentrating on my acting career.

Tell us about your roles in the movies?

Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain is about the Bhopal gas tragedy.  I play the role of a widow who carries the emotional weight of her husband's death in the Union Carbide tragedy. Martin Sheen plays the Union Carbide manager. Tannishtha Chatterjee and Kal Penn are also part of the movie.

In Blood And Curry, I play the role of Deepa, a traditional Indian bride who moves to America for a better future. Gradually my character becomes a victim of domestic abuse. Deepa feels trapped because she cannot go back to India, as she would be a failure to her family and an untouchable in society.

How was it working with Martin Sheen?

It was a treat to watch him act and work with him. I never felt as if I was acting with a big celebrity. He was very relaxed and always willing to help. He is a through professional and very down-to-earth person.


Image: Fagun Thakrar

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'I'd love to work with Hrithik Roshan and Salman Khan'

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Are you open to working in Hindi films?

Yes, I would love to work in a Hindi film. If anything substantial comes my way, I will definitely take it up. I would love to work with Prakash Jha, Raykesh Omprakash Mehra and Shekhar Kapur.

Is there any particular actor you are looking forward to work with?

Yes, I am looking to work with Hrithik Roshan and Salman Khan. I have seen their films and they look stunning.

Tell us about the NGO that you are associated with.

Sahara was established as one of the first transitional homes in Southern California for South Asian survivors of domestic violence. They help women and children who have been victims of domestic abuse live a life free of violence.


Image: Fagun Thakrar

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